Microsoft has been negotiating with Verizon and Comcast to bring television programing to the Xbox 360. Recently, news about the deals were announced and now Xbox Live will carry cable TV shows starting around Christmas 2011. What types of programming will be available? Also, what does this recent development mean for the future of the video game industry?
What is Xbox Live TV?
With a subscription to Xbox Live Gold, users will have access to cable television and other features like on demand movies. The service is boasting over 40 channels including Bravo, SyFy, and HBO GO. Shows and movies will stream directly on to your 360. Your friends on XBL will be able to “watch” with you, like with Netflix’s instant streaming.
How will it work?
Don’t disconnect your regular cable TV just yet, because having an XBL Gold membership isn’t enough. Users will need to subscribe separately to each service. If you want to watch the programming provided by Comcast, you’ll still need at least one cable box and a subscription. To access offerings from Verizon FiOS, you will need to be a subscriber. Xbox 360 users are expected to have a major update at the end of November. This is suppose to change the dashboard and start the integration process.
Kinect and Xbox Live TV
While there’s no news reporting it won’t work without Kinect, Microsoft is really pushing that angle. By using the gesture and voice commands unique to the motion control accessory, users will be able to quickly search Bing for their favorite shows and movies. In fact, you don’t even need to know the name of the program. All you need to do is say what type of programming interests you. If you don’t have the $150.00 Kinect, and want to use the new TV service, let’s hope the standard controller does the job.
Is this part of the future of gaming consoles?
It’s clear that Microsoft is striving to be first in every new development involving gaming consoles as complete entertainment hubs. If Xbox Live TV is successful, perhaps Sony and Nintendo will try to emulate it. All three consoles already offer Netflix streaming. The PS3 and 360 have Hulu Plus, facebook, and many other non-gaming applications. Although for Xbox Live TV to truly be revolutionary, it has to evolve beyond acting just like another cable box. Maybe in the future, gamers will be able to pick and choose shows instead of paying for channels and programming they don’t want.
Xbox Live TV looks like it could be the start of a whole new way to use your 360. Once the services start later this year, gamers will be able to see how smoothly the integration process is working. If it’s a hit, perhaps your Xbox will become your new cable box.